Saturday 21 April 2018

End of legal dispute paves way for M11 service station to finally open

The M11 service station at Ballyellin, Gorey
The M11 service station at Ballyellin, Gorey

Fintan Lambe

A legal dispute which was holding up the opening of the service station on the M11 at Ballyellen, Gorey, has finally been resolved, meaning work should start on fitting out the premises in the coming months. However, it could be up to a year before it's open.

Building work was finished on site in May 2015, and Topaz submitted the preferred tender to run it. In August that year, the SuperStop 2 Consortium, involving Applegreen and Tedcastles Oil Products, launched a challenge in the Commercial Court to the awarding of the Gorey tender, and two others at Kilcullen, Co Kildare, and Moate, Co Westmeath which have yet to be built.

It was reported in the Sunday Independent at the weekend that sources close to the deal said the two parties have reached a settlement, and have 'agreed to put their swords away'

As the preferred bidder, Topaz will become the awarded bidder in the next few months. Work will then begin on fitting out the premises, and it should be open within a year.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), formerly the NRA, has set about re-covering over the motorway signs for the service station with temporary grey paint, as the previous paint had worn off.

The service station has been bogged down in controversy for a decade. As far back as 2008, local residents were involved in a high profile campaign against the facility An appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the granting of planning failed in 2010.

Work began on site in late 2013 despite a statement to the media by Applegreen in July that year questioning the need for it, and its financial viability. The company was planning to build its own rest stop at Cullenmore, Co Wicklow, at the time.

Since work finished at Ballyellen in May 2015, it has cost the TII almost €16,000 a month to keep the vacant premises secure and lit.

Attention is now turning to the services at the station. Topaz has a relationship with McDonald's fast food restaurants, and the two companies just last month officially opened a flagship site on the M9 in Co Carlow.

McDonald's has also been linked to the service station under construction in front of Tesco in Gorey town. The drive-thru is understood to be designed to be suitable for an operation like McDonald's. However, no announcement has been made as to the awarding of the franchise for this site.

The resolution of the legal dispute was welcomed by Cllr Malcolm Byrne who said it is in the interests of motorists in the county that it opens as soon as possible. 'It's been a regular cause of complaint,' he said.

Gorey Guardian